Finding Fulfillment: A Guide

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Sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on what’s not right in your world. The inimitable Robbie Stakelum looks at some of the possible issues and suggests solutions.

A lot of self-help books preach about finding your ‘purpose’ or ‘mission’ but if you’re feeling lost this advice or direction can feel unhelpful and frustrating. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and as work plays such a dominant role in our waking hours, I think it is helpful to look at where you find joy.

“Life is meant to be enjoyed”

The tool I talk you through in this article is helpful to map out fulfillment at work but you can also apply it to other areas of your life if you wish. For example, some clients know work isn’t the problem but using this tool they can understand what is missing in your relationships, hobbies and other areas outside of work.

Consider the following fulfillment drivers, or dimensions of your work life. Examining each of these areas can help give you a sense of what is missing. Different drivers may hold varying levels of importance for different people, this tool can be helpful in identifying where you lack fulfillment and point you towards helpful changes.

Competence

Do you feel confident in the work you do? It’s important to feel good at what you are doing. When you are competent at your work it leads to greater confidence, and leads to a sense of fulfillment and joy.

“When you are competent at your work it leads to greater confidence”

What to do if this is missing: If you don’t feel competent at work, consider where you don’t feel competent. Perhaps there is a simple fix in upskilling or doing a course?

Alternatively, consider why you don’t feel competent. Perhaps you need feedback from your manager or clients. You may be excellent at your job, but need some additional validation to know you’re doing a good job. Constructive feedback from your manager can be helpful to identify areas for improvement or help you build confidence by recognizing areas of work where you are competent.

Freedom

Do you have independence or autonomy at work? Being micro-managed or dictated to at work can be a pleasant experience for some, but for others it feels oppressive where you lose a sense of ownership or pride in your work.

What to do if this is missing: Is it your line of work or workplace culture? Some sectors and offices create workplaces where you don’t have autonomy as an individual at work. In this instance it may be important to change your job, searching for a more flexible working environment.

“Take the initiative and consider where you can change”

Alternatively, you can take initiative and consider areas of your job where you can change or take additional responsibilities, and pitch to your manager how you’d like to bring a new direction to your work. If you didn’t realize freedom was something you valued at work, it’s likely your manager isn’t aware either.

Money

This may seem fairly straight forward, but do you have the money to make ends meet? We all need financial security, otherwise the resulting stress, no matter how much you enjoy the job, will turn it toxic.

What to do if this is missing: A starting point can be to discuss your salary with your employer. But if there isn’t space to increase your salary with your standard of living, it may be time to change jobs.

Another alternative can be looking at side hustles. This is absolutely not for everyone, but in the past when I was unhappy with my salary I moved into coaching, training, consultancy work and teaching yoga, which not only addressed money issues, but further helped cultivate impact, competence and connection in my world of work.

Connection

What kind of relationships do you have with your colleagues, team or clients? Humans are sociable creatures, we need positive and healthy relationships in our lives. We live on a spectrum of introvert to extrovert and so the type, number and quality of relationships differs from person to person.

What to do if this is missing: Consider if you’re lacking connection in general. Perhaps you’re in a line of work that is solitary, where you sit at a computer, work remotely and have little to no contact with your team, if you even have a team. In this situation it may be time to change jobs or sectors, looking for a line of work that meets your needs for connection. Alternatively you could organize more social events at work to bridge that connection.

However it may be that you have ample connections at work, but they are negative or toxic, and in this situation the next steps may require changing jobs or addressing inappropriate workplace relationships or conversations with HR.

Growth

Is there room and space to grow in this job? Everyone is different, but for some people their professional and personal development is key, and without growth or new challenges they will grow bored and disengaged with work.

“Some workplaces will be happy to facilitate your growth”

What to do if this is missing: If you have annual reviews or work appraisals, raise your growth in the organization as an issue, and flag to your manager that you are in need of additional responsibilities. You’ll be surprised, some workplaces will be happy to facilitate your growth, or cover the cost of a course to help you upskill into a new role.

Additionally you may choose to be more proactive in seizing opportunities and pushing yourself into roles or projects. A word of warning here, you also don’t want to take on lots of additional work for no additional pay. It can be good to get the experience, and then look for a change of role and salary if it is something you like, or use the extra work in the short-term to bolster your CV if you’re looking to move jobs.

Impact

Do you feel as though your work has a positive impact on society? It is important to feel as though we are important. A lot of middle-aged clients I work with who are well established in their career struggle with impact, as they feel their work doesn’t matter. Again everyone is different and for some people impact isn’t important.

What to do if this is missing: The easiest step is to re-assess how you evaluate the impact of your job or organization, sharing concerns about impact with your manager or team can start a wider organizational conversation. It may be that your specific role is one where you do not see nor feel the value of your work.

“Clients I work with who are well established in their career struggle with impact”

However if it is a deeper problem, such as the sector you work in does not align to your values, and you view it as having a negative impact, then there are few alternatives other than changing jobs or sectors.

All of these different domains provide a means to try and identify a problem you’re encountering. Often we “feel” as though something is wrong, but struggle to recognise it, and as a result have difficulty fixing it.  Clients find this tool helpful to better understand what is important and more importantly to find the areas they are struggling in that need change.

Give it a go, and see how you get on

You can always feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

Robbie Stakelum is a Brussels-based coach, supporting clients feeling lost and disconnected to find a sense of purpose by capturing clarity and building balance. Want to work with Robbie? You can find out more about his coaching practice, set up a free discovery call or find out if coaching is for you by checking out www.robbiestakelum. com or get in touch direct with Robbie by email via robbie@robbiestakelum.com